This is the second part of our story. Start with the first part to get the whole story.
Over the years Kelly and I would see each other sporadically. We saw each other in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving break and she dropped by Johns Hopkins on a road trip to her summer internship. We were both dating other people so it was always a little bit awkward and weird for us to see each other. I know my girlfriends at the time were not excited by the idea of me meeting up with my high school sweetheart. But we both figured out a way to see each other whenever there was an opportunity.
We also managed to talk to each other on the phone about once a year. This was before cell phones and Facebook so Kelly usually had to do a fair amount of work to track down my current phone number and status. She would call my dad and casually ask for info, trying not to come off as a stalker, but eager to get the latest news. Even though she made the effort to keep in touch I always made myself available when she called and enjoyed catching up.
In December of 2005 Kelly took a day trip to Manhattan to do some Christmas shopping with her college friend Stephanie. Over lunch they started talking about people they knew in the area and Kelly mentioned that I lived on the Upper West Side. She went on to share our entire dating story. When she got to the part when I leave to go to boarding school in Ohio, Stephanie asked, “What boarding school? I went to boarding school in Ohio.”
“Western Reserve Academy,” Kelly replied.
“I went to Western Reserve Academy,” Stephanie said incredulously. “You mean Jake from Las Vegas? I know Jake!”
They had known each other for six years but had never exchanged high school stories which would have exposed their shared friendship with me. Right then Kelly grabbed her phone and called to tell me about this amazing coincidence. “You are not going to believe who I am talking to right now. Guess!” she said excitedly as soon as I answered. Of course I had no idea and no way of even narrowing the choices so I just asked her to tell me who it was. “Stephanie, from WRA!”
“What?” I thought to myself. “That is random.”
“Can you come down here and hang out? It would be great to see you and catch up.” Kelly asked before quickly adding, “You’re not dating anyone are you? No one is going to be mad about this I hope?”
“No, no one is going to be mad,” I replied, laughing. We agreed to meet in an hour and I hurriedly got ready and headed out the door.
As soon as I saw Kelly all the usual excitement and attraction came rushing back. She looked amazing and I had to control my urges to sit closer to her and focus all my attention on her. The three of us caught up and shared stories about how each of us had met each other and marveled over the coincidence of it all. I managed to learn during this conversation that Kelly was not dating anyone seriously.
Before we went our separate ways for the day, Kelly mentioned that she would love to see me again and invited me to come to Philly sometime. After that day we started to talk more regularly on the phone. In January I drove down to Philly to have dinner with her and we both couldn’t deny the attraction and feelings we still had for each other. Kelly made it very clear that she wanted a serious relationship and I had no interest in just dating her again. We both were coming to the table with the idea that if this was going to happen then it was HAPPENING.
I returned on Superbowl weekend and met Kelly at her house. She needed to do some grocery shopping to make some chili for a superbowl party so I accompanied her to the store. After she checked out I grabbed her bags and carried them to the car. Just like when I carried her books in high school she was completely surprised and pleased with the gesture.
That night we met up with a mutual friend from high school for a beer. While we were sitting at the table Kelly and I were all over each other like high school kids again. I can’t imagine how awkward it was for them but we were in our own world.
In the cab back to my hotel I pulled her close on the bench seat and began singing Cake’s “Stickshifts and Safetybelts”
Stickshifts and safety belts
Bucket seats have all got to go
When we’re driving, in the car
It makes my baby seem so far
I need you here with me
Not way over in a bucket seat
I need you to be here with me
Not way over in a bucket seat
It wasn’t until Kelly finally heard the original that she admitted she thought I sang the song completely off rhythm. “Oh, that is the way the song actually sounds?” she said years later.
The next phase of our relationship moved forward at warp speed. By April we said “I love you” to each other for the first time in ten years. By June Kelly had found a new job in Manhattan and moved into my apartment with my roommate Pete. By October we had purchased a house together and began to make it our home.
The next step was obvious. Even though we hadn’t discussed it outright I knew what I was expected to do next. This time I needed to come up with something even more romantic than how I asked her out in high school. I began to hatch a plan…